Ankle Injury Care

Treatment varies based on the severity of an ankle injuryThe ankle joint is a key weight-bearing joint of the skeletal system. It is a structural medley of different bones, tendons and ligaments coming together to form this vital joint. The ankle is also a highly mobile joint and hence, a site of frequent injuries like sprains, tendinitis, fractures or ligament tear. Dr. Hayden is a highly experienced and knowledgeable surgeon who believes in providing advanced surgical care to his patients.

The treatment for ankle injuries depends on the type and extent of injury. Generally, pain is managed with the help of over-the-counter medicines like painkillers or anti-inflammatory [1] drugs. In order to know the extent of injury, the surgeon requests imaging studies like X-Rays and in some cases MRI too so as to understand the full extent of the injury. Based on these reports, a further course of treatment is decided.

In case of mild sprains, the initial treatment is rest and ice pack application to avoid further damage to the joint. [1] This works well in reducing the swelling and also creates a feeling of numbness over the joint reducing the pain sensation. Compressing the joint can keep it stable and provide support while keeping it elevated helps reduce the swelling.

If you suffer from moderately severe sprains, the same initial therapy of RICE i.e. rest, ice, compression and elevation works, but it takes a longer time for recovery and you might need additional aid like a splint or boot in the process of recovery. The surgeon might advise you to undergo physical therapy so as to regain power, flexibility and unbound movement of the joint. We at Onto Orthopedics make sure that our patients are provided the utmost care during their journey towards recovery.

If there is a ligament tear, then the pain is severe and recovery can take much longer. It may even take a few months to return back to routine activities. Finally, in cases of complete ligament tear, a surgery may be needed to repair the damaged ligament to regain mobility.

Fractures of the ankle joint can be treated both surgically and non-surgically depending on the complexity of the fracture. If a single bone is broken and the other bones are normally aligned and the ankle is stable, then the fracture can be treated non-surgically by using a cast or a splint [2] to support and immobilize the joint. On the other hand, if more than one bone is involved, making the joint unstable, then the choice of treatment is surgery.

It’s important to take care not to put weight on the affected ankle so that the bones can heal properly, as it takes a minimum of 6 weeks for bones to heal completely. The soft tissues take longer than bones to heal. Later, you will also need physiotherapy and regular exercises to regain normal functions of the joint. Physical therapy sessions help in training for balancing, regaining gait, strengthening the surrounding muscles and ligaments etc. You may also have to work at home so that you can get back to your normal walking style without limping.

The medical professionals at Onto Orthopedics are very skillful and specialize in this field. Dr. Hayden graduated from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and ankle injury treatment is one of his fortes. Ankle injuries can be prevented by following certain basic rules as follows:

  • Do not exercise or play when you suffer from fatigue or pain
  • Keep your weight in check
  • Exercise regularly to have strong and healthy muscles
  • Wear footwear in accordance with your activity
  • Make a habit of running on flat surfaces
  • Always warm up prior to exercising or playing any sport
  • Make sure that you are wearing all needed protective gear during the sport

 

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD

References:

  1. Sheon RP. Repetitive strain injury. 2. Diagnostic and treatment tips on six common problems. The Goff Group. Postgrad Med. 1997 Oct;102(4):72-8, 81, 85 passim. Review. PMID:9336597.

     2. Ren DH1, Hou Y. [Non-surgical treatment for fracture-disloction of ankle]. Zhongguo Gu Shang. 2012 Jan;25(1):62-5. [Article in Chinese]